ST. LANDRY PARISH, La. (KPEL News) - A new "Animal Control Ordinance" in St. Landry Parish could mean that vermin control, like killing rats and mice infesting a home, might get you in legal trouble.

That is according to the group Sportsmen's Alliance, which is warning its members about the ordinance, which is up for consideration in the parish government's November 16 meeting.

“It is the most egregious case of a word-happy lawyer running amok without using any common sense to reduce animal cruelty in a community,” added Adkins. “This ordinance is so over the top it even prohibits pest control of vermin like rats in and around the home. You’ve got to be kidding me.”

What Is Animal Abuse in St. Landry Parish?

The "Animal Control Ordinance" document on the St. Landry Parish Governments website is dated July 29, 2022. There is a section of that ordinance on animal cruelty that goes into what falls under that label.

In the section labeled "Sec. 8-28. – Animal Abuse/Neglect," the ordinance says "Any person who intentionally or with criminal negligence commits any of the following shall be guilty of cruelty to animals."

The list of offenses includes torture, injuring, neglecting, etc. animals owned by the offender or owned by someone else. However, under the list of offenses, there is one item that seems to be what the Sportsmen's Alliance is warning about.

If a person "mistreats any living animal by any act or omission whereby unnecessary or unjustifiable physical pain, suffering, or death is caused to or permitted upon the animal," that person is guilty of abuse and neglect, according to the ordinance. The problem is that the ordinance does not seem to include any language referring to dealing with pests.

In fact, there is no reference to infestation or vermin and how to humanely deal with them specifically. Neither term is defined in the legal document.

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Staff Photo

While it's unlikely that you would be fined and prosecuted for killing a rat in your home, the group does point out that the ordinance is overly broad, potentially affecting everything from pest control to hunting.

How this ordinance would impact sportsmen and women is anyone’s guess because it doesn’t contain an exemption for hunting, field trialing, or training of dogs. In fact, the 30-plus-page ordinance is overly vague and poorly written throughout. The proposal even fails to exempt pest control activities from potential charges of animal cruelty.

They also warn that something as routine as a dog having puppies would legally make that dog's owner a "breeder" and be licensed as such.

Anyone whose dogs have puppies, whether they intended to or not, would be required to be licensed as a breeder. And all licensees must allow inspections of their homes twice per year. A person who is licensed as a breeder must provide 24-hour access to water or be subject to a violation of animal cruelty. Moreover, you are defined as a breeder if you trade a dog with friends or family, even if you’ve never engaged in any commercial activities around dogs.

If that is the case, that would have a huge impact on a lot of residents in St. Landry Parish. The parish council will take up the ordinance next week and look at possible adoption in the future.

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